Pioneer announces Aha Radio partnership, plans for app domination

If there's a trend at this year's CES in the infotainment world, a sort of new common denominator that's unifying all the players, it's having your social media read to you while you drive. Pioneer is playing along. New you'll also be able to listen to Facebook and Twitter updates, pull down NPR podcasts and RSS feeds, even get Yelp reviews read to you. And, yes, that Pandora integration too. Aha Radio from Harman is the provider here and initially will be supported in two of the company's higher-end models, the AVIC-Z130BT and AVIC-X930BT. Both look to be double-DIN units with large touchscreens and built-in navigation. That's just the beginning, though. More details after the break.

Beyond that, Pioneer is trying to rock the world with what it calls PAIS, the Platform for Aggregation of Internet Services. It's basically an intermediary that would more or less aggregate multiple services, enabling you to get POIs, reviews, send and receive status updates, and let it all happen at the right places behind the scenes without you having to jump from one app to another. The idea is for this to run on both mobile devices and Pioneer's radios, and they're also opening up the API for free so that others can get in on the single-sign-on fun.

Right now they have a few people who are already onboard, including Accuweather, Facebook, Google, Slacker, Twitter, and Yelp, and while the idea sounds lovely, we're curious to see what kind of support the crew will get going forward. Only time will tell on that front, but the two supporting head units ship this March at $800 and $1,200 respectively.

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Aha Radio®, SmartCradle™, MotionX™ and App Mode Provide Smartphone App Solutions for Drivers

LAS VEGAS - CES BOOTH #1001– (January 5, 2011) – The leading car electronics manufacturer, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc., today announces new solutions for safer integration of smartphones into the car environment. Pioneer brings the next step in broadcast radio into the car with Aha Radio® Mobile App, which turns social media and traffic apps into audio broadcasts. Pioneer's expertise in navigation, coupled with its focus on in-vehicle smartphone integration has led to the company's first SmartCradle™ for use with Apple® iPhone™1 to enhance in-car performance of GPS enabled apps such as MotionX™-GPS Drive, the leading Apple iTunes navigation application. Also new is the App Mode feature which is available in nine new audio/video and navigation models and enables viewing of a connected iPhone's video content from Safari, YouTube and other select apps2 directly through Pioneer's larger, high resolution in-dash screens.

"We understand the importance of keeping drivers informed and entertained and we continue to work with the leaders in the Internet, smartphone, app and mobile realms to safely bring consumers the best in-vehicle experience," said Ted Cardenas, director of marketing for the car electronics department, sales and marketing division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "Seamless compatibility with Aha Radio, MotionX-GPS Drive and Pandora internet radio provides users with immediate access to apps and services that are most important to them."

Pioneer's two new in-dash navigation models are the first to conveniently connect drivers to the world around them with on-demand, interactive, personalized radio. Via an iPhone running the free Aha Radio Mobile App connected to the new AVIC systems, users can listen to the latest traffic conditions on their current road or commute road, listen to Facebook and Twitter updates, access hundreds of podcasts and other services such as the "Hungry" and "Coffee" stations which deliver real-time vicinity search results and directions to preferred restaurant categories listed on Yelp. Aha Radio offers over 100 content and podcast stations that can be conveniently accessed and controlled directly on the touch display of the Pioneer system.

The Pioneer SmartCradle for iPhones is compatible with all GPS enabled apps, including MotionX-GPS Drive and is the first of its kind to incorporate a built-in gyro sensor and accelerometer combined with an external antenna for improved GPS reception and location accuracy, even if GPS signals are limited by high rise buildings and tunnels. Additionally, the unit features an integrated amplified speaker with volume control for high quality hands-free calling and offers a mini USB input and audio/video output. An Eco Illumination2 light turns from red to green as driving efficiency increases and provides an awareness of driving habits. The unit can be rotated to portrait or landscape views and the SmartCradle will also charge the connected iPhone. "Pioneer is leading the way for Smartphone integration", said Philippe Kahn, CEO of Fullpower," customers are looking forward to using MotionX-GPS Drive with Pioneer's solutions."

The App Mode feature, which can only be accessed when the vehicle is in park and the hand brake is fully engaged, lets users view a connected iPhone's video content from Safari, YouTube and other select apps2 directly on a larger high resolution screen. Audio from these video source and compatible apps, such as MotionX-GPS Drive's navigation voice guidance can be heard through the vehicle speakers while driving.

Pricing and availability of Pioneer's SmartCradle will be announced at a future date. App Mode and Pandora internet radio are available on the new AVH-P3300BT, AVH-P4300DVD and AVH-P6300BT audio/video
units and Aha Radio is additionally available on the new AVIC-Z130BT and AVIC-X930BT in-dash navigation units.

Pioneer's Car Electronics Department is known for offering the kind of in-car products that make driving more enjoyable by offering high quality audio and video, seamless connectivity and ease-of-use. Its focus is on the development of new digital technologies including audio video, navigation and satellite radio, while maintaining its strong heritage in products for car audio enthusiasts and sound competitors.

1 App Mode will also work on iPod touch™ devices running apps that do not require an active Internet connection.
2 Content must be output in QuickTime
3 Cradle calculates the fuel efficiency by comparing the fuel efficiency after the unit is powered on and before the unit is powered off.

PIONEER is a registered trademark of Pioneer Corporation.
SmartCradle is a trademark of Pioneer Corporation.
IPOD, IPOD TOUCH, and IPHONE are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.
Aha Radio is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Inc.
MotionX and the MotionX logo are trademarks of Fullpower-MotionX in the United States and other countries.

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Jaed Arzadon, 310-952-2451,
Diana Gonzales, 310-952-2401,

Andrew Reynolds
AtomicPR for Pioneer Electronics